In this article, I'll show you the usual route I take whenever I walk through the streets of Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong, this time in preparation for making a puppet called Mr. Golden. Sham Shui Po is famous for its stores selling fabrics and other clothing supplies, as well as electronic accessories. It is also full of different places to explore.
It was a typical summer day and I was headed out to Sham Shui Po, an area dominated by old people and people with generally lower income, to do some shopping for a puppet project. I have always been fascinated by this area, not only because of the great variety of materials which can be bought here, but also because of the many faces that I can capture with my LC-Wide.
This particular day started off with a heavy rain.
I happened to be near an old housing estate when it started to rain. There were people like me who quickly ran for shelter. Meanwhile, some elderly had already been there all morning for some fresh air and perhaps a friendly chat with the neighbors.
It was quiet all around except for the sound of heavy rain.
I carried on with my journey to the “Fabric Street” after the rain stopped and went past a very old pawn shop. It was just so beautiful; there are not many of them left in Hong Kong due to development. I’ve seen a lot of these in movies. It’s where people bring their most valuable things in exchange for cash for a living. Even the thought alone of selling your most precious thing to someone you don’t know is very heartbreaking.
“Fabric Street” is the only place in Hong Kong where you can find millions of different kinds of fabric and other clothing supplies like ribbons, buttons, threads, tools, and other accessories – anything you can think of. It is like a huge all-in-one shop, except it is outdoors and without any air conditioning.
Oh, and yes, this was one of the spots in Hong Kong where “Transformers 4” was filmed.
Along the next street down is a local wet and dry market for fresh meat, vegetables, and fruits. I’ve always enjoyed making detours there just to enjoy the hustle and bustle at the busy crossroad.
There were also many secondhand items (or junk, if you prefer) being sold along the sidewalks. Books, CDs, bags, cooking utensils, Walkman, bicycles, musical instruments – all at a bargain price. Whenever I need to find a prop for a production, especially an old one from, say, the 80’s, I always come here to try my luck. They might be a bit dusty or perhaps not functioning at all, but they are good enough on stage as a set dressing.
And that day I found a Budweiser toy bike for children. Amazing.
There is also a street called Ap Liu where electronic stuff like plugs, batteries, torches, cables, hardware tools, as well as digital goods such as mobile phones and security monitors are being sold. It’s a must-visit place for men of all ages. When I was little, I always came here with my dad even though I had no idea what I was looking at.
I am a props maker and I need to work with a great variety of materials. Whenever I have a job at hand, I almost always pay a visit to Sham Shui Po because I can probably buy everything I need here in one go. If you happen to be a props maker like me, or a costume designer/maker, an electronic geek, or just someone who would love to feel the atmosphere of this fascinating area, you can easily get here via the MTR. Just get off at the Sham Shui Po station on the red line.
And finally, here’s a photo of my Mr. Golden puppet waiting to be finished in my studio.